Six shelves of the belongings which didn’t get discarded and didn’t make the final cut in December stared at me with something close to reproach. I hauled a box down and shuffled its contents, already disheartened about the task of ridding myself of the rest of the material goods which made my old life. Here and there, a gem emerged: The embroidery which my stepdaughter made for me; a sketch of our pets drawn by my son; a reprint of the article which my mother had published in Organic Gardening in 1979. The few important papers which I couldn’t find when I unpacked continue to elude me.
After a few hours, the futility of my effort overwhelmed me. A pile formed to go upstairs and get crammed in my two suitcases for incremental move by Southwest, a term which my friend Kimberley Kellogg coined which now applies to the balance of my relocation. I’m cautious about this plan, since I live in 313 square feet. But I’ve left some cubbies empty back at Angel’s Haven. I can bring a few more pairs of shoes, a couple more sweaters, a dress or two, some paintings. I’m certainly bringing my coffee grinder, lest I not be able to enjoy the Caisi Cielo beans that Penny Thieme gifted me at the Gathering of the Usual Suspects.
By the time I settle for sleep, I’m overcome with emotion. I cannot even articulate; I can’t utter one word. I try; I’m a guest in someone’s home, after all. But I’d been struggling all day with a sore throat and the lump which has formed around this sorting process made speech nearly impossible.
I don’t regret my move. But I dread having dinner in Brookside tomorrow. We’ll be skirting dangerously close to a life that I abandoned at least in part to save what remained of my days from sinking into a quagmire of mourning. California opened her arms to me. The Pacific soothes me with her welcoming voice. I felt at home there from the start, from the first moment that airplane wheels hit tarmac in December of 2014, in San Jose, before my first meeting with the Stanford gurus.
But the boxes in the basement remind me that I once felt at home here, in Kansas City. At a Formica table on 5th street yesterday, I sat across from Dr. Karr and her spouse drinking coffee and hearing about the Rotary Christmas party. More than one twinge of longing coursed through my veins.
Now it’s going on seven. I must shower and dress for the court appearances which prompted this trip. I am grateful for my host, grateful for the friends who’ve made room in their schedules for me. Gratitude sits uneasy on my shoulders, though; if I had not left, these coffees and dinners would be less eventful, and certainly, less poignant.
It’s the twenty-second day of the forty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
California, Joni Mitchell